Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Luperon Got Its Name

Luperon was named after General Luperon, who was one of the DR's greatest heroes. In 1879, after being invaded by Haiti and occupied for several years, the country was reorganized, under Luperon's leadership,(read that dictatorship) and set on the road to economic recovery. Well, ok so it's a slow path but at least they are better off than Haiti.

Puerto Plata used to be the official port of entry on the North coast but it is also a commercial port. During a storm, several freighters broke loose in the Puerto Plata harbor and used cruiser sailboats as bowling pins. The DR government didn't think that was such a good idea so they opened Luperon, actually Bahia Blanco, as a port of entry and the cruisers all moved here.

This is a major transit spot for boats moving North and South but also has a small community of cruisers who stay here year around. So far, I have met four couples who came here up to three years ago with the intention of only staying a couple weeks and they are still here. It is an excellent hurricane hole with the last hurricane reported to be in the 1930s.

Luperon is not a major city. I walked from one end to the other today and it took me about 20 minutes from the bay until I was on a two lane road with nothing but cows and banana trees. Far and away the major transportation devices are motorcycles and motor scooters. There does not seem to be any age requirement as I saw a boy today on a motor scooter who could not have been over 10.

There are no stoplights nor indeed any stop signs in the town. I was sitting in the plaza, city center park, near lunch time and there was a fellow riding through on a horse. The main town, about six streets wide and twenty blocks long is paved (sort of) but after that it turns to dirt.

Chickens are seen everywhere and I can smell pigs but haven't found them yet. Not that I am in that great a hurry to make the discovery.

Most important though is that I found a good ice cream parlor. Good ice cream (a single scoop) in La Paz, Mexico used to cost about 20 pesos (the exchange rate was about 9 pesos to the $1.) Here the ice cream costs 10 pesos and the exchange rate is about 18 pesos to the $1. I like it here!

There is also a local restaurant much frequented by the local population. I heard this from a cruiser I was talking to in the plaza. It specializes in chicken and pork. A very large plate of rice, a plate of red beans and 1/2 chicken cost 35 pesos (about $1.50) He said he had eaten so much chicken over the last month he was growing feathers.

I joined the Bahia Luperon Commodore club today. It is a new restaurant opened by some cruisers who have decided to stay here. They promise to never serve beans and rice in the restaurant. It is rapidly becoming a cruiser hangout and has painted silhouettes of different boat styles on the walls. For 100 pesos (about $5.00), your boat can be immortalized by having it's name associated with one of the silhouettes. Vantage Point will appear proudly above the new bar. It will now live forever, or at least until the place gets repainted.

I joined a Spanish speaking class at the George Washington university here in Luperon. The GW university is a two room shack with a green chalkboard (remember those?) There are two other people in the class (a couple from Quebec) and we will study conversational Spanish together on Tuesday and Thursdays from 10am to noon. There is one instructor. The cost is 70 pesos (about $3.50 for a two hour class.) Mucho gusto.

I like this place. It reminds me of the small farm towns in Iowa but set in a tropical environment. The smells are the same, there are motorcycles instead of trucks, the people are a little darker, banana trees instead of elm, but basically the same.

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